LAHAN, Dec 19: Despite its small area, Province 2 which consists of districts including Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari has the second highest population in the country among all the provinces. Traditional agriculture is the main income-generating activity of the province. Despite having capacity to fulfill the agriculture demand of the whole country, the province is struggling to uplift itself in the first place.
In the 60s, a huge quantity of rice used to be exported from Khairato checkpoint of Siraha. At present, the opposite sight is being observed. Thousands of quintals of rice are being imported from the border with the increase in the country's dependence on imports from India.
The lands of Madhes is not just plain, it is also fertile. At least three types of crops can be grown in most of the lands. Irrigation is easy and less expensive.
However, farmers in the plains are losing interest in agriculture. With time, they have consistently shifted from their dependency on agriculture for livelihood.
“The government's policy and short-sightedness are the main reasons behind this,” said Surendra Prasad Yadav, a professor at Surya Narayan Satya Narayan Marwaita Multiple Campus, Siraha. “We have plenty of possibilities in agriculture sector. However, industrialization is needed for prosperity,” he added.
He said the state is responsible for decreased fertility of arable lands. “Old infrastructures made for irrigation are in dilapidated condition. The government has not been able to construct new infrastructures needed for irrigation and agriculture. If we really are to seek prosperity, we need to focus on modernization of agriculture and proper environment for our industries.”
Industrialist Binod Chaudhary of neighboring Bhagwanpur said there is suitable environment for establishing new factories due to plain lands and geographical advantage. Other districts of the province also have good environment and prospects for establishing industries also because of easy access to raw materials from the southern neighbor India.
“There is even more potential in agriculture-related industries. Agricultural industries have the potential to uplift Madhes and Madhesi people. Now that the important elections have successfully concluded, we hope for political stability, which will in turn bring peace and prosperity as it attracts more investors,” added Chaudhary.
Despite the potential, many people in the province do not have good base in education. From the list of most backward districts in education, six of the ten districts are in Province 2.
Likewise, the province also lags in availability of natural resources. However, there are exciting prospects for the future. There is possibility and hopes of another international airport, Kathmandu-Tarai fast track, among other prospects in the province.